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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am posting here, even though this question involves DS's sleeping patterns, because I don't really view this as a "sleep issue," but as a question of how best to manage and address everyone's sleep needs. It seems to me that my questions are more about GD/consensual living than about sleep, though the underlying issue is about sleep.

Here's the background, and the problem. DS turned two in June. We have always co-slept and night nursed, and DS has never slept through the night. The number of nightwakings, however, has decreased over the past year enough so that I have been able to accumulate enough sleep, generally, to feel reasonably good.

For the past few weeks, though, DS has been in a new pattern, and I am no longer feeling as though my needs for adequate sleep are being met.

First, the time at which DS goes to sleep has become unpredictable. While his usual bedtime is around 8:00 p.m., there have been at least four nights in the past week when he has gone to sleep around 9:15. He wakes between midnight and 1 a.m. to nurse, but is now refusing to unlatch. If and when he does unlatch, voluntarily or otherwise, he is very wakeful and restless for at least half an hour. He wakes again between 4:30 and 5:30, and we go through the same routine. Sometimes, like this morning, he simply won't go back to sleep. So last night he slept from 9-12:30, and 1:30-4:30 a.m. It isn't enough sleep for him, and it isn't enough sleep for me.

As further background, I am working full time as a lawyer right now because DH lost his job a couple of weeks ago. I have little time to spend with DS in the morning before I leave for work, and there are many nights when I am not getting home until 6 p.m. I do not mind that DS wants to go to bed later some nights, because I enjoy the time with him. After 8-8:30 p.m. he is often content to "read" his books next to me in bed (after I have read them to him) or play quietly with a puzzle while I read my book. I also do not mind the middle of the night waking, though I wish he would return to sleep more easily.

It's the 4:30-5:30 wakeup that is killing me. Even if DH or I are able to help DS return to sleep, I'm up for the day. It's too late for me to go back to sleep. I can't figure out how to address this creatively in a way that meets my need for additional sleep, but also recognizes the fact that DS is wakeful for some reason I can't quite put my finger on (it's not teeth), but may have something to do with his desire to spend more time with me. Even if DH gets up with DS and spirits him away, my mind is usually already awake and working by that time.

I'm really out of ideas, and would appreciate any and all suggestions.
 

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Age 2 is when I nightweaned my younger son. I don't know if you would consider that or not. I felt like 2 was a reasonable age -- I was able to talk with him and process what was going on, and felt like he could comprehend what was going to happen and communicate how he felt about it. If he had been younger, the process would have made me uncomfortable.

Anyway -- it didn't solve his nightwaking habits completely, but after a week or so, there was no longer a dependency upon the breast linked with his ability to rest at night, which meant fewer wakings and much lest restlessness in between.

Also though, keep in mind that whatever you do, children's sleep habits shift and change throughout their development. This will not be the last time that issues arise -- there is no permanent solution.
 

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OK, this isn't really about the family aspect, but something I had to figure out in college. A college that ran on a 22hour/day schedule...


I often found myself wide awake, mind racing, when I did have a few hours for sleep.

If I couldn't get back to sleep after a waking, I (over time) trained my mind to keep focused on whatever I was dreaming about just before I woke up - fresh on the brain. In the end, I could get up, go to the bathroom, talk to BF, etc... and still keep my brain in a semi-sleep state. Or maybe more like, I remained with a small link to the sleeping me. When I did lay back down to actually return to a full sleep, I focused more intently on that last dream I was thinking about and drop right off...

Perhaps you could make deal with DH that he does the "wisk away" at that waking and you would have minimal interference with trying that "meditation" of sorts?

GL and HTH!!
 

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Wow, this sounds so difficult. I NEED sleep and working full time with that type of job seems very challenging with a young child. I really see how much you need some down time. And how much ds needs some connecting time.

So many things come to mind. First, I'd see if I could decrease my expenses as much as possible. There are so many invisible things that add up, maybe relieving some of the 'I have to work full time' stress could help. Could dh work at something part-time and you go back to part-time? (I am assuming that was a recent change). Could you consider a babysitter/daddy's helper while you are out, so that dh has some time for himself and perhaps his pressure could also be offset? I know when my dh is stressed, I am more stressed, and it is a snowball effect for ds to be more stressed because of my stress. (chicken and egg thing)

I have a relaxation meditation that I have practiced for years that helps me to fall to sleep each night and (helps) get back to sleep. My inclination is for my mind to start racing at nightwakenings and we use some aromatherapy at bedtime and again upon awakenings. It is called "Peace & Calming" and it seems to have the effect of settling my mind and relaxing me. Bach Flower remedies also has "White Chestnut" for 'when things go round and round in your head". I occasionally will sip this in water if I have read something aggitating or upsetting before bed. The White Chestnut also helps if I start thinking 'I need to hurry up and go to sleep, so that I can hurry up and get up, so that I can hurry up and go do xyz, and hurry up, etc.' I also will sing ds's lullabye silently or out loud, somehow that seems to resettle my mind when it starts to wander and worry. Lavender is another calming aromatherapy. Also, sometimes, I will just get up, have some orange juice (for the sugar and potassium) and some peanut butter (for the fat and protein) and that seems to help me resettle.

For ds, I found that nightwakening is highly associated with dairy, wheat and new experiences late in the evening. He is especially amped up if dh has been out of town and comes home. He has a need to reconnect and reassure himself (?) that 'all is well'. Some Rescue Remedy to help all of us settle goes a long way, especially if dh is tossing and turning and sighing because he needs to hurry up and get some sleep and hurry up to wake up.....

We also created additional sleep associations than nursing to sleep. I am a big advocate of Pantley's No Cry Sleep Solution. And we weaned around age two (without distress) due to my sleep deprivation and additional life demands. I initiated the weaning but it was comfortable to both of us. Personally, I wouldn't suggest weaning at a time of high stress though. Nursing for comfort is the easier choice, imo. And ds had many more serious illness and respiratory issues the winter after weaning. And I wished we had still been nursing.....

HTH, Pat
 

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Does he have his two year molars? Could they be on their way? If his sleep habits have always been predictable then I suspect this could be at the heart of the matter. Has his latch/suck altered at all when he nurses? If so, then I would imagine he'll be back to his old routine when molars arrive.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by marsupial*mama
Does he have his two year molars? Could they be on their way? If his sleep habits have always been predictable then I suspect this could be at the heart of the matter. Has his latch/suck altered at all when he nurses? If so, then I would imagine he'll be back to his old routine when molars arrive.
: that's exactly what I was going to post. If he doesn't have them yet, I bet they're on their way in and making him miserable. Have you tried Hylands?

good luck!

-Angela
 

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I just want to clarify that I *night*weaned my son when he was two! We continued our nursing relationship until he was 4 yo. though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thank you, all, for the help and ideas. You helped me appreciate, once more, that I can not change DS' sleep patterns, but only my own responses and adaptations. I always know that on some level, but when my head grows fuzzy from sleep deprivation, I become more set in my ways and less able to adapt.

I was very awake last night after DS woke at 1:45 and took a while to resettle after nursing, so I went downstairs and had a glass of half OJ, half water and some rescue remedy. I found I was much calmer and able to sleep after that, and was able to fall back to sleep after the 5 a.m. waking this morning as well (as did DS).

scubamama, the first paragraph of your post brought tears to my eyes. Your empathy is very powerful. Thank you for understanding. My mind often races through the cycle of "hurry up and go to sleep so I can hurry up and get up so I can hurry up and get to work so I can hurry up and get home so I can hurry up and get to bed..."

aira, yes, I often do exactly what you suggest, and it often works. Unfortunately, I have found lately that I've just been getting too awake, and I lose the dream and can't remember it. I'll keep trying, though.

mamaduck, we are working on nightweaning, but not with much success. DS generally becomes very agitated and upset if I suggest the bubbas are sleeping and that we could cuddle instead, even if we have talked about it ahead of time. I really don't think he is ready.

As for teeth, he does not yet have his two year molars, but I see absolutely no sign of them anywhere near the surface, and his latch has not changed - it tends to become very ouchy for a while when he is truly teething.

Thank you.
 
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